“Campaigners like me sincerely believed that if we could prevent people expressing prejudiced thoughts, they’d stop thinking them,” says Phillips. He now says they were “utterly wrong” – although you could argue that a child who is taught in school not to repeat the old racial slurs his parents used will become less of a hater.
He interviews Ann Cryer, the veteran MP for Keighley, who years ago took up the case of several mothers whose daughters, aged 12 and 13, were being used for sex by local men, nearly all from the Mirpur district of Pakistan. Neither West Yorkshire Police nor Bradford Social Services wanted to know. To the politically correct, this was simply a category error: white people did bad things to black and brown people, not the other way round.
With the authorities meekly condoning multiple “cultures”, however misogynist or backward, and making it a crime to criticise what was unacceptable, brutal or downright illegal, even tolerant people grew angry and disillusioned.
“The mistake we made,” says Phillips, “was we gave people a kind of cultural exemption from normal, reasonable, decent behaviour.”
He won’t be invited to many dinner parties for this article.